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The Smoke Signal Pascack Valley High School

October 2015 Volume XII, Issue I

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire”


Supt. addresses feedback on recent changes By Evan Jones Staff Writer

ified that if a student is applying early decision to a school, there is no set date. Students can merely go to their guidance counselors and ask for their grades. In the past, students would have had to wait for the end of the first marking period. “There’s a lot more flexibility with this,” Gundersen said. Pascack Valley has done away with midterm and final exams or, more accurately, Pascack Valley has done away with midterm and final exam weeks. Administrators are not mandating that departments eliminate exams. While PV no longer has weeks dedicated specifically to midterm or final exams, individual departments have the liberty to decide whether or not to give cumulative exams, which would be similar to midterms and finals. “We’re not mandating that subject areas get rid of midterms and finals,

Dramatic scheduling changes had Pascack Valley abuzz last year. Block periods, rotating schedules, Pascack Period, and the common lunch all seemed new and unfamiliar to PV students and faculty. Originally, students and teachers alike had had strong opinions about the changes, but they eventually became accustomed to the new schedule. As year two of the new schedule begins, the PV administration is considering students and teachers’ suggestions collected through a survey that was conducted toward the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Through the data collected, the administration has some ideas of potential changes for the future, but has decided to wait for a second year of data before changing the schedule again. “The overall feedback was very positive,” said superintendent Mr. Erik Gunderson. “The students really rallied behind the new schedule.” One of the largest of the scheduling changes last year was the introduction of the Pascack Period. This 85 minute Wednesday block period was meant to encourage students to branch out and take “alternative” or “learn to learn” classes, led by teachers and stu-

see MIDTERMS on Page 6

see FEEDBACK on Page 6

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Midterms and finals no longer mandated, marking periods removed By Jamie Ryu Staff Writer

book. “Before, teachers would say ‘I need to make At the end of the last sure that the paper is due school year, it was an- before the marking perinounced that there would od is over’,” Gundersen be some changes to grad- said. “Whereas, if there is ing at Pascack Valley a legitimate reason for a in the upcoming year. due date to be postponed, Marking periods, mid- now you can do it.” Students are conterms, and finals have all cerned about how the been eliminated. According to the super- lack of marking periods intendent of schools, Dr. will affect their final averErik Gundersen, most ages. They are concerned teachers and students are that taking the average of excited about the chang- all their grades will affect the outcome significantes. “There hasn’t been a ly. Dr. Mark Russo, the loud cry from teachers to me about a major issue,” supervisor of the matheGundersen said. “The matics department, said, biggest concern might be “Mathematically speakabout students struggling ing, whether you’re taking ‘an average of an avthroughout the year.” Teachers feel that, erage’ or one average, if while the final grade that the points per marking students get at the end of period were all roughly the year may be the same, the same, there would be the lack of a “clean slate” no difference.” According to Russo, might have a different with the assumption that psychological effect. Students are excited all four marking periods that, since the school has have a similar number of gotten rid of marking pe- points, there will be no riods, teachers will not be change. The one exceprushing to “get one final tion is that if one markgrade” into the grade- ing period in the past had

fewer assessments, those might have counted more heavily when calculating a final average. “It’s actually, I think, a more equitable system,” Russo said. “Now teachers assign a weight to something and that’s the weight they carry.” “At least speaking for math,” Russo clarified, “and that’s really all I can speak to, there’s not going to be a significant change.” Students are also concerned about what grades will be sent out to colleges. Colleges ask for final grades from freshman to junior year. However, they do request “seventh semester grades”, which in the past would have been halfway through senior year. “There is a date that has been determined when we will take a snapshot of senior grades halfway through senior year,” Gundersen said. This “snapshot” will also determine the valedictorian and salutatorian. Gundersen also clar-

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October 2015

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

PV should stay true to Bring PV together by its Indian tradition changing the mascot By Kyle Comito Staff Writer There perhaps has been no hotter topic lately in the halls of Pascack Valley than the school’s use of the Indian as its mascot. It has been discussed, debated, written about, and talked about dating back to the summer. Among all of this controversy, however, there has been one consistent and undeniable fact: the PV students, community, and administration do not actually want a change -- and it’s not even close. An online petition against this change, signed by students, alumni, and others, has over 1,300 signatures. A Smoke Signal poll shows that 83% of people are in favor of keeping the name and logo. Even Superintendent Erik Gundersen stated that the issue is “not something the board is looking into at this time.” So why the conversation? Here is where the question becomes thicker, as many point to the name and logo as a sign of racism and simply inappropriate to promote as a school symbol. In simplest terms, my response to this question has always been: “Why?” Are we somehow saying that one race is better than another by adopting this name? Are we making fun of or using the Native American in a negative way? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you need to take a second look at the way our school uses this mascot by coming to one of our sporting events. It is without question that we here at Pascack Valley are proud to be Indians. We see the Indian as a perfect symbol of pride,

bravery, and courage, and we would like to model ourselves after these qualities. The Indian has been entrenched in our school’s history since its inception, and sixty years of history is not something that should be forgotten for the sake of said “progressiveness” or “political correctness.” If it is not correct to honor and pay respect to a group of people by anointing ourselves with their name and positively promoting them at every turn, then I’m not sure what could be considered “correct.” This warrants the response I usually get: “It doesn’t matter what you, a privileged white student, think about this topic: it’s the natives themselves.” Then isn’t it convenient that absolutely zero Native American citizens or groups have reached out to PV to voice their concerns with the name? “That doesn’t matter, look at the natives protesting the Cleveland Indians.” Invalid point, as most of that debate is not about the name, but the redfaced Chief Wahoo logo instead. At this time, the other side usually points to several online blogs to prove their point. Nonetheless, it is going to take more than that to show that the entire Indian population is enraged about the fact that our high school proudly cheers for their name. Lastly, much of the anti-Indian argument stems from the fact that the “Indian” is not actually their name, rather a misnomer for Native Americans. I would immediately dispute this, as they have been refereed to by this name for centuries, and over time, it has become widely accepted and frequently used. Native Americans are and have been called Indians by textbooks, politicians, see STAY on Page 6

By Chandni Shah Staff Editor The infamous “Indian” mascot of PV has been debated over for the past decade. From the time Pascack Hills was established in 1965, after Pascack Valley in 1955, the Native American mascot came about to rival Hills’s mascot, the Cowboys. Was this really a progressive decision, to make two schools rivals, to the extent that their mascots resemble hatred towards another? Mascots are made resemble a school’s community, its makeup of students, not for rivalries between schools; especially ones that mock morbid history. This should be the end of the argument. But there are those who believe that the Indian is a “tradition” and should stay. Past alumni believe this mascot should never change, hence students of the 21st century are forced to stay in dark ages of the past. Some traditions are made to be broken, and history proves this to be true. Schools in the US were once white-only, segregation was prevalent, and schools would only have caucasian teachers. Well, that has changed. It was once a tradition to enslave and torture Native Americans. There was a “Holocaust” here in the US, a genocide committed against the Native Americans. Yet we still are not humble, we didn’t learn from our mistakes. Mascots that mock the past are okay. If our mascot were the “Africans” or the “Israelis” or the “Mexicans” it would’ve been immediately changed without any denial. However, since the

Native American population is so little in our region - in the world, in fact, - it doesn’t matter. People in the mascot’s defense say that Natives are “okay” with this depiction of themselves, so should we care? There are many Native American groups who publicly stand against this stereotypical symbol of a shirtless man with a mohawk and spear. Again, this should be the end of this debate; if so many people are against this, why defend this offensive symbol? Still, there are those who say that if not all Natives are against this, there is no need for change.. Well, just because few Natives are “okay” with this doesn’t make it “okay”. Many slaves in the past accepted their lives as slaves and lived as they’d known, by being obedient. If we really are the “Indians” and feel pride in this mascot, shouldn’t we all know what tribe is native to our region and its actual culture, religion, and history? Shouldn’t we know the difference between the Lenape Indians in New Jersey and the Kumeyaay in California? The culture, religion, and way of life of Native Americans is too vast to be depicted in one way. Students at PV are not even taught tribal names, language, and culture. If we really have “Indian” pride we should have the respect to acknowledge them correctly. Not all Natives are shirtless men with a mohawk and spear. This stereotypical depiction of the Natives is wrong. The opposing side would argue, this is all “political correctness,” see CHANGING on Page 6

October 2015

Administrators cite reasons behind recent changes By Chandni Shah Staff Editor

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Students Cassandra Leibfried, left, and Amanda Bifulco, right, read “The Catcher in the Rye” in their sophomore honors English class. MIDTERMS from Page 1 but I think you’ll see fewer and fewer of them,” Gundersen said. “I think you’re instead going to see ‘benchmark assessments.’” The math department has mostly decided to give cumulative exams at a more regular interval, the definition of “regular” varying. The required math courses will still have major assessments, but courses that are more project based may not. Russo said, “We’re going to try and give [exams] when it’s natural and also when it doesn’t necessarily hammer students with exams at the same time.” The world language classes will be, rather than giving exams, switching to “integrated performance assessments” where they will be testing 3 categories--interpretational skills, presentational skills, and interpersonal skills. The grading criteria can be found on the world language website in greater detail. “I think it’s going to work greatly to our advantage,” said Ms. Noemi Rodriguez, supervisor for the World Languages department, “especially with our proficiency based models.” The Social Studies department will not be giving midterms or finals. Mr. Joseph Orlak said

Many students, teachers, and parents of the Pascack Valley Regional District have been wondering as to why such drastic changes have taken place for the school year of 2015-2016. Many viewed the changes as highly unexpected. However, the reasons behind all these changes come down to one thing: helping students succeed. “The main driving force was the idea of reducing unnecessary stress and, along with that, increasing academic expectations,” Superintendent Mr. Erik Gunderson said. The deadlines for marking period grades for both students and teachers had been, according to the PV community, very stressful and taxing. Teachers had to cram in all of their material before the deadline and were under pressure to get all their grades in within this time constraint. “One of the motivating factors for this decision was that we need to acknowledge learning as a continual process, and removing arbitrary deadlines encourages this sort of progressive practice,” said Mr. Matthew Morone, an English teacher at PV. Students also went through stressful times as their teachers were forced to hand out last-minute

tests and projects for the final input of the grade of the current marking period. “Having one test that directly impacts your final grade for a course inevitably gives a student stress,” said Maggie Deegan, a senior at PV. As for midterms and finals, the same aura of stress was created for students and teachers. The same push to cram all subject matter in to finish the curriculum before the midterm or final was a problem for teachers. The wasted time of going over material on the midterm rather than students being able to learn new material was another huge issue. Therefore, the main purpose of not having midterms and finals is to benefit the future of the students here at PV. “It is in the best interest of students, as many other districts have done the same and the success rate is great,” Gunderson said. In fact, according to Gunderson, Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills are “actually behind the curve as many districts have already eliminated these tests.” “Many people think that eliminating midterms and finals won’t prepare our students for colleges. But what’s unknown to many is that colleges are changing these terms as well since

they are decreasing emphasis on marking periods and these “major” tests.” A lot of teachers and students are also wondering why these changes came so suddenly and why they came right after the drastic schedule changes were just implemented. “Although it had been phased out over the past year or so, the conversation about no midterms and finals has actually been going on for years,” Gunderson said. The decision to eliminate marking periods was finalized this past spring. They based this decision largely off of the proof of success with other high school districts. Questionable rumors drifting around speculated the superintendent receiving incentives for whenever these drastic changes were put in place at school. However, this is, in reality, not the case. “I get a salary and do get merit bonuses for certain things that I do, like all superintendents, but none of these changes that were implemented this year do I benefit from,” said Gunderson. The central goal of all these changes is to reduce the amount of unneeded stress on students and teachers, which, according to Gunderson, will benefit the entire school community in the long run.

that they can assess students without the “high stakes pressure of a final assessment.” “We believe that our mission is,” Orlak said, “ to ensure that each student in social studies gains an appreciation of the skills and content needed to help create a well informed and productive citizen.” According to Dr. Aarti Mallya, the supervisor of the science department, science courses will be giving comprehensive exams which will vary in frequency based on the course. They will incorporate the testing of skills such as analyzing graphs, constructing explanations and arguments based on evidence, and designing solutions to problems. The English department has not given final exams in past years, opting for a final project instead. Dr. Edie Weinthal said that the department as a whole will now not be giving a final project, at least not in the sense that it will count for 10% of your grade, and it will not be giving a midterm assessment. There will not be a project required to stand in for midterms. “There are things that we do, and society as a whole does, that puts undue stress on the students,” Gundersen said about the reason for the Photo by Curstine Guevarra changes. “So really, that’s Students use their free time to catch up on schoolwork and socialize in the the main driving factor cafeteria during the Pascack Period. behind [the changes].”

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October 2015

Photos by Curstine Guevarra

Students enjoy down time to socialize during lunch, upper right, and also during Pascack Period, above and lower right. Minor changes have been implemented to the Pascack Period routine this year, such as the creation of homeroom for all students in the beginning of the period. FEEDBACK from Page 6 dents alike. These classes taught skills ranging from smoking meats to playing trivia to exploring nature. According to the student surveys, studying for a class, taking a mental break, making up an assignment, and going for extra help with a teacher were actually the most popular options for students during the Pascack Period. While upperclassmen had more freedom when it came to the Pascack Period, the freshmen were enrolled in “Freshman Seminar,” which did not receive as much positive feedback. However, administrators are aware of this trend. “This year we are also going to be retooling the Freshman Seminar,” Gunderson said. Dr. Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Curriculum in the district, has been placed in charge

of overhauling the curriculum of the Freshman Seminar aspect of the Pascack Period. This year the class will focus more on the social and academic transition of freshmen from middle school to high school. Another new portion of the Pascack Period will be the addition of a homeroom. The homeroom class will take place before the Pascack Period begins for about 10 minutes. It will serve as a chance for teachers to take attendance after lunch and an opportunity for students of different grade levels to converse with each other. According to many students, there has been lots of confusion during the first few Pascack Periods this year. “I have not been made clear of my options,” freshman Sofia Urbaniak said. Many students can be seen walking the halls

because they are not signed up for a Pascack Period class; unlike last year, students are not automatically assigned to a room this year if they choose not to sign up for a “learn to learn” class. “How do I not have a class to be in?” junior Julia Dobre added. “I wander the halls,” junior Keith Zorn said. Instead of being assigned to a homeroom or quiet study class, students are simply left to do what they please. This change truly leaves Pascack Period as an opportunity for students to do whatever they need or want to do. Senior Jordan Lauber summed up his experiences and said, “I’m confused but I like it. “It’s a good free-forall,” he added. The most popular change among students was the addition of the common lunch period. There was lots of anxiety among students over

the fear of never being able to buy food because of the massive lines, but over 75% of students polled said that they enjoyed the common lunch period because of the ability to eat with their friends. According to the survey, many students also took this opportunity to meet with teachers or make up an assignment, similar to the Pascack Period. When it came to the new rotating schedule, which included two block days, many students were originally very fearful. They were especially worried about having to work and pay attention in a class for 85 minutes straight. It seems that students must have adapted to the long block periods, as almost 60% of students answered that they wanted to keep the number of block days the same. In fact, more students would prefer to have ad-

ditional block days compared to less block days (21.3% to 19.2%). Although the feedback was mostly positive, there have been many students who would like the block days to be moved from Tuesday and Wednesday to Wednesday and Thursday. This is because many feel that currently “Thursdays feel like Fridays” after the block days, when in reality, there are usually still two days to go until the weekend. “We are just worried that Friday would then become a ‘test day,’” said Gunderson in reference to the change of days. At the end of this school year, another survey will be distributed regarding the scheduling changes. With two years of data to make decisions, Gunderson and the rest of the administration will then more seriously consider some further changes that students and teachers desire.

October 2015

New classroom design reshapes student learning By Chandni Shah Staff Editor Doesn’t new furniture smell amazing? Nothing feels better than sitting on a new leather couch, or better yet, calling it your own. Mr. Matt Morone and Mrs. Tina Marchiano, both English teachers here at Pascack Valley, are among a few of the teachers who were chosen for “Operation Furniture,” a plan to enhance the classroom setting by creating a new room design that includes adding furniture. “About six months ago, I was informed that I was going to have all of the Honors sophomore classes and I really wanted to try something new and exciting that I couldn’t do if I only had a few of the classes. But in order to do that, we really had to rethink the way that the classroom looked,” said Morone. Both Morone and Marchiano individually had the idea to approach the administration and ask them about a furniture change. It was nothing less than a coincidence that the administration happened to be thinking about similar changes as well. When it became official that some of the classrooms would be changed, they approached Morone and Marchiano and asked if they would be interested.

The boxes were transferred to their classrooms on Friday, September 18. Everything from spinning chairs to desks on wheels made their grand debut that day, and it was plastered all over social media. All of the student chairs and desks were replaced with furniture that is compatible with different types of learning. Both Morone and Marchiano have sacrificed their teachers’ desks in order to make room for additional seating and bookshelves. There is a section of Morone’s room dedicated for conferencing that is made up of large desks on wheels. Across the center of Marchiano’s room, there are tall tables with built-in whiteboards paired with stools on wheels. Both rooms have a counter installed near the front door with high chairs. Morone got an L-shaped couch and Marchiano got a regular couch, both paired with its own coffee table. Scattered around both of the rooms are leather chairs. A 50 inch flat screen TV was placed in each room accordingly. “I think it will their enhance the students’ experiences while they are in class,” Marchiano said. Morone, inspired by the design change of his classroom, decided to change some aspects of the curriculum for his

Photo by Robyn Roznitsky

Mr. Matt Morone encourages his students to write literary quotes on the windows in Room 209. classes as well. He spent all summer working on a curriculum that is nonlinear and open in the sense that students can choose what they want to work on at what time. The furniture comes into play because it gives the students the mindset that there is no front of the room. Different pieces of furniture can be used for different assignments. “For example,” said Morone, “students who are doing independent reading can sit on the couch. Those who are working in small groups can sit at the conference desks, and so on.” The layout of the furniture allows fluid move-

ment from place to place. Marchiano, on the other hand, is keeping the same standard curriculum that addresses con-

secutive units. However, the furniture makes the classroom environment more interactive than it otherwise was.

Photos by Curstine Guevarra

Ms. Tina Marchiano operates in her newly redesigned Room 211, above and lower left. Mr. Matt Morone’s students get to work in Room 209, below.

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October 2015 STAY from Page 2

and most importantly, themselves. Case in point, the Oneida tribe, which is famously protesting the Washington Redskins mascot, goes by the official name of the Oneida Indian Nation. Also, the well-known New York City museum that honors and displays achievements throughout Native American history is called the “National Museum of the American Indian.” This is clear, irrefutable proof that this name is widely recognized and used, many times by natives themselves, and should not be a talking point when discussing our mascot. I have still, to this day, not heard any valid proof as to why our name and mascot should be considered racist. Racism should be defined as believing one person is better than another due to the color of their skin, and this only. Yet some in modern society claim racism when one simply mentions a race, as is true in this situation. If I were opening a school now, I would avoid naming it anything Native American related, if nothing else to avoid the backlash. But with the history and pride that comes with it at PV, it should never be forced to change.

PVRHS District launches new teaching initiative By Nicole Zamlout Staff Writer Most teachers at both Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills teach five classes a day, with the exception of a few teachers who sometimes teach six. However, in a new position created by the district’s administration, one teacher from both PV and Hills has been chosen to teach only three classes per day and then, for the rest of the day, do research for those classes, work on projects with students or on their own, or work on whatever else the teacher needs to do for the school day. For PV, this new position went to English teacher and adviser of The Smoke Signal, Mr. Bill Rawson. The teacher chosen at Hills was Miss

Smoke Signal File Photo

Mr. Bill Rawson, pictured last year at MetLife Stadium with, in background from left, sports writers Evan Jones, Jake Aferiat, and Calvin Ralph. Rawson has taken on special assignments this year. Alana Rome, the editor and teacher advisor of The Trailblazer, Hills’s student newspaper. Rawson and Rome are

CHANGING from Page 2 though it is more than that, it’s about properly educating students, who are the future of our world. And what if this question is flipped: “What about the people who are actually American Indian?” Or for further clarity, those who are the descendents from the country of India. Are Indians okay with being defined as Native Americans and having many people confuse themselves with a stereotypical symbol? The actual definition of “Indian” is “of or relating to India or the subcontinent comprising India.” If I say that I am Indian, would you picture the stereotypical symbol of a Native American , or would you think I’m a descendant from India? PV is an educational institution that must teach its students the difference between both races; this is its responsibility. There are many children who are conPhoto by Curstine Guevarra fused because of this common misconception. How can one tell the difference between an Indian and an Indian? The Smoke Signal Staff A change won’t happen overnight, but it can hap2015-2016 pen over time, as other “traditions” did in the past. The Indian won’t be “banned” to wear for school acEditor in Chief: Vanessa Rutigliano tivities. It can be an easy transition: new merchandise Associate Editor in Chief: Brianna Ruback simply can gradually replace the old. This one small Managing Editor: Lauren Cohen change can trigger a domino effect, inspiring others Sports Editor: Claudia Ralph to do the same. Layout and Photo Editor: Curstine Guevarra Adviser: Mr. Bill Rawson In the end, it’s not about the mascot; phrases like Principal: Mr. Tom DeMaio “fear the Indian” and “respect the tribe” do not truly Website: pvsmokesignal.com define PV students. Facebook: The Smoke Signal With the Indian mascot or not, we have and always Twitter: @pvsmokesignal will have pride in our school and ourselves. That’s what Instagram: @pvsmokesignal PV is about; it runs in our green and white blood.We Snapchat: pvsmokesignal are strong, smart individuals who make up this great Vine: pvsmokesignal community. It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of Pascack Valley High School. A stereotypical repreThe Smoke Signal welcomes input from all members of the Passentation isn’t needed to represent us; our actions are cack Valley High School community. Please contact Mr. Rawson for information (wrawson@pascack.k12.nj.us). Since the Smoke Signal is enough. The PV block letters resemble who we are. the voice of the student body of Pascack Valley High School, opinions Why have a mascot that hurts and misrepresents our expressed in this newspaper do not necessarily reflect those of other own selves? Let’s all come together, not as Indians, Pascack Valley students, teachers, administrators or the Board of Education. Articles are often reproductions that first appeared online and not as Americans, but as fellow human beings, as the were deemed accurate at the time of original publication. students of Pascack Valley High School.

both excited about the extra time they will now have within their days. “It affords me a lot of free time to work on special projects that I probably ordinarily wouldn’t have the time to dream up and execute,” said Rawson. Rome had a similar opinion in regards to the now abundant amount of free time. “This new position allows me to do a few things. First and foremost, it allows Pascack Hills more time and resources to improve The Trailblazer, our newspaper. We are going completely online this year. My editorial staff and I have been working diligently over the summer to create some wonderful and innovative facets of the paper,” said Rome. Not only does it allow time to work on their respective papers, but they also now have more time to help students if they have questions or problems in or out of class. Rome expressed this with enthusiasm. “I teach three periods a day, have two prep (“free”) periods and two periods to work on this new position, which is being referred to, for now, as the ‘district project.’ Since there is no delineation between my prep see POSITION on Page 8

October 2015

Two virtual days set for this year By Madison Gallo Staff Writer Imagine completing all of your schoolwork from home on a daily basis. It may sound odd at first, but that’s what superintendent Erik Gunderson is hoping to achieve with virtual days. This year, two virtual days are built into the school calendar as days when coming to school is optional for students, but completing all work assigned by teachers is mandatory. Students can work on their assignments either at school or from home, but the day will be regarded as a regular school day and will count towards the mandatory total of 180 days in the school year. As some of the PV community may recall, two years ago, when

there were no more snow days left that were built into the school calendar, a rushed decision was made to have a virtual school day. Students attended school from their homes and completed their teachers’ lesson plans as they would if they were physically in the high school. However, since the teachers were not physically in the school and available for help, the school day was not counted as a “real” day. Even after both Valley and Hills proved that learning occurred and that schoolwork was completed, state officials ruled that this day would not count toward the mandatory 180 days of school. Now, two years later, improvements have been made to the online days to help benefit the school,

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

PV this year will be implementing two virtual school days where students will have the option to complete work from home. the students, and the teachers in the best way possible. “Academic expectations are as high as ever,” Gunderson said. Virtual days cannot and will not be used in place of snow days, since in order for the day to be considered valid, teachers must be at school.

However, sometime in the middle of this year there will be two school days where students aren’t required to physically come to school; if they decide to use this day as a virtual day where their school work gets completed online, then it will still count as a regular day since the school doors

were open. These days will only be four hours long and will match that schedule for the day, going from class to class. Regarding the future, the Board of Education is looking for virtual days to become a great alternative to sick days so that no more students get too far behind.

Media center adjustments prompted by budget

Pascack Hills for 15 years where she taught art history and worked in the media center. She is excited about the change and ready to work with the new students. White believes that working in two places should not affect her availability as a resource for students. She is always available through her email, Twitter, and by phone. White said that all of her contact information will be added to the library page on the PV website, so students are welcome to contact her if they need any assistance. In addition to White, Ms. Mariellen Nemecek, the Assistant Library Media Specialist, is going to be a valuable resource for Photo by Curstine Guevarra students this school year. She will be in the media Mrs. Peggy White, district librarian, interacts with PV students in the Media Center. White is now swinging center to check out books between Hills and Valley. and monitor daily activities. By Eva Rosini “Students will have the some students may have tween both PV and Pas- the media center to make Staff Writer already noticed the dif- cack Hills. our budget work for what same services in the disferences in staffing there These changes were we were looking to do in- trict, but we just don’t Many Pascack Valley in comparison to last prompted by the budget structionally this year,” have a Media Center students visit the Me- year. that was put aside for said Superintendent Erik Specialist dedicated to dia Center daily to work Pascack Valley and then This year, rather than staffing this year. Gundersen. on school projects, meet having two librarians, “Unfortunately, this The new Media Cen- another one dedicated to with friends, or do re- there is going to be one year we needed to make ter Specialist, Ms. Peg- Pascack Hills,” said Gunsearch. Because of this, librarian swinging be- a reduction in staffing in gy White, has worked at dersen.

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PV football rises above scheduling difficulties By Jake Aferiat Staff Writer Consistently, Pascack Valley High School has one of the premier football programs in northern New Jersey. The school has won two straight state sectional title and is vying its third consecutive this season. For the Indians, it hasn’t much mattered who their opponents would be at any point in the last three seasons. However, there is one sentiment that has arisen recently that’s shared by principal Tom DeMaio, athletic director Tom Gattoni, and head football coach Craig Nielsen alike is that public schools should not have to be forced to play private schools. This belief stems from the fact that private schools have the opportunity to recruit from a large area pool, receive large amounts of funding, and can commit violations (inadvertently or not) and often face lenient sanctions, if any at all. It’s this ability to recruit and create overpow-

ered teams that bothers the higher-ups at PV. None of them would ever dodge competition. They all agree that they’re more than happy to play Old Tappan or Passaic County Tech or Ramapo — all highly competitive public schools playing by the same rules. However, PV was slated to play DePaul, a Catholic school that is allowed to recruit. It’s because of that unfair advantage that PV requested that DePaul release it from the schedule this year. DePaul obliged, but that wasn’t the end of what turned out to be a long, arduous scheduling conflict. After the release from DePaul, Pascack Valley drew Passaic County Tech as their first game of the season, but again problems arose. Due to fall-out from other scheduling issues that arose, Passaic Valley Tech couldn’t play PV this year, which meant that PV was left without an opponent. It is difficult for schools to pick up a football game so close to the beginning of the season, so it looked as though PV would then

stick with an eight game schedule, as opposed to the standard nine. Gattoni was perfectly content with that, but along came Hackensack asking to play PV. The Comets had an out of state opponent cancel. It was at a scrimmage over the summer that Hackensack approached Nielsen about playing in the regular season, and according to him, the deal was finalized within an hour, and he called it “a great pickup.” The Indians toughed out a 3429 over their opponent. Pascack Valley always competes at a high level, but it’s conceivable that its schedule and its road to success would be markedly different if its schedule didn’t change. The Indians (5-1), who suffered their first loss of the season against unbeaten Old Tappan last week, will soon embark on their next mission — the state playoffs, where they will experience another change. The two-time defending North 1, Group 4 champions have moved down into the North 1, Group 3 section this season.

James Poggiogalle, below, and his PV teammates hope to break through when the state playoffs begin in a few weeks. The Indians, the North 1, Group 4 champions the last two years who dropped to North 1, Group 3 this season, have overcome some scheduling abnormalities and are 5-1. Photos by Curstine Guevarra

POSITION from Page 6 and district project periods, I can be more flexible with my schedule, and by extension, with my students if they need my help,” Rome said. As Rawson expressed, this even affords the chance to work on projects with students. “The way my schedule is structured this year, I have no classes in the afternoon, so if a student needs help I am easily available. Also, some of these projects may specifically involve students, such as maybe working with a student to do something journalistically in a science class or something along those lines,” Rawson said. Lastly, this new po-

sition allows for the teachers to create new and exciting ideas and formulate ways to make them realities. Rawson conveyed the idea of “an annual journalism festival here at PV” that The Smoke Signal will host. “I’d like to have a very affordable option for schools to come and have workshops, have Keynote speakers and have student facilitators run the workshops,” Rawson said. Rome said that she and her newspaper staff have been “collaborating with other schools” as well, and she is very excited to unveil her new ideas this year. Pascack Hills’s online newspaper can be found at phhstrailblazer.org.

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"Changes" Edition, Oct. 2015  

A special edition featuring all-new pieces centered around the many changes that have been, or are about to be, implemented at Pascack Valle...

"Changes" Edition, Oct. 2015  

A special edition featuring all-new pieces centered around the many changes that have been, or are about to be, implemented at Pascack Valle...